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<nettime> CSIS on Hungary
Janos Sugar on Mon, 24 Nov 2014 23:42:06 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> CSIS on Hungary

Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS):
In the case of Hungary, many of these trends have toxically blended to produce an increasingly authoritarian regime. Over the last decade, Hungary has maintained strong economic and political ties with Russia. Russia is Hungary's largest trading partner outside the European Union, and the country remains 80 percent reliant on Russian energy. As Russia's grasp on Hungary's economy has tightened, nationalist and xenophobic groups-such as the neo-fascist Jobbik party-have also risen to prominence, further undermining the country's Western, liberal orientation. Moreover, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has articulated a significant shift in national direction and policy orientation, declaring in July that Hungary must strive to build "an illiberal new state based on national foundations" as evidenced by legislative motions to restrict free speech (including an oppressive advertising tax), centralize authority (Hungary's new constitution has been amended five times), and erode the independence of the judiciary. Noting that the geopolitical "wind is blowing from the East," Orban has credited Moscow for these latest Russian-styled Hungarian "reforms." These illiberal trends have been accompanied by distinctly pro-Russian foreign policies in Budapest. Orban has consistently derided the EU's sanctions against Russia, and Hungary abruptly discontinued its sale of excess gas supplies to Ukraine after a visit from the CEO of Gazprom this fall. Hungary received a 10 billion euro loan from Russia for a new nuclear power plant facility, increasing Hungary's energy dependence on Russian technology and financial support. Negative developments in Hungary and its neighbors threaten to derail wider European efforts to restrain Russian recidivism. Although the 21st-century East-West confrontation does not bear the ideological vestiges of the Cold War, there is a clear ideological component. This contestation is between liberal versus illiberal, transparency and good governance versus corruption and "managed democracy." The unqualified success of Central Europe's transformation from Communism to liberal democracies and market economies is not immutable, and we should not trick ourselves into believing it is so.




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